Hike of the Month: Ecola Point to Indian Beach
Located in Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach, the hike to Indian Beach arguably has some of the best views on the north coast. After being closed for almost five years due to a landslide that washed out part of the original trail, this portion of the park reopened in early 2021.
If you’re at all familiar with the old trail, which skirted along an oceanside cliff for much of the way, the new, slightly longer route takes you more inland through a lush coastal forest—giving more opportunity to pause with your own thought without quite so much sweeping ocean scenery to distract. This trail has some steep sections, so be sure to wear a good pair of shoes. While it's dry in the summer, be prepared for a muddy hike if coming during rainy season.
The hike begins at the Ecola Point day-use area, a grassy bluff with some picnic tables that overlooks Crescent Beach, with views stretching farther south toward Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. Follow the trailhead sign for Indian Beach, where you’ll soon duck into the forest and cross a footbridge over Crescent Creek. Meander uphill until you reach a viewpoint near a cliff edge, where you’ll spot Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, a deactivated lighthouse that sits atop a basalt rock in the middle of the ocean. Built in the 1880s, the lighthouse earned the nickname “Terrible Tilly” due to stormy weather patterns and challenges faced by lighthouse keepers who had to operate it.
At this point, you’ll pass the old decommissioned trail and ascend through a mossy old-growth forest of giant, storybook-like Sitka spruce and western hemlock, where you’ll climb a series of switchbacks before heading down through a secondary forest. Soon enough, you’ll descend some steps and be treated to an even closer look at Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Hiking right along the cliffside, you’ll come to a junction that takes you on a short trail to Indian Beach, where you can take in the ocean breeze and have a picnic before heading back.
If you’re looking to spend a little more time, you can also visit tide pools if it's during low tide—check the charts first. From here you can either continue north from the Indian Beach Trailhead to take the Clatsop Loop Trail or head back the way you came to Ecola Point.
- Distance: 4.7 miles
- Elevation gain: 875 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Type: Out and back
- Fee: $5 day-use parking fee or annual pass